Photo courtesy of Shambhala Sun Camp

Dhyana Kida was 12 years old when she first attended the Shambhala Sun Camp nestled in the picturesque mountains of Red Feather Lakes, Colorado. Her parents had gone when they were her age, her brother has also attended, and then it was finally her turn.

“I fell in love and went almost every year,” Kida, now 21, says. Her story is similar to most who go: they find themselves returning to camp year after year, eventually becoming staff members that guide the next batch of camp-goers.

The Shambhala Sun Camp is held in only three places in the world: Limousin, France; Nova Scotia, Canada; and our very own northern Colorado. Shambhala Buddhism, which is inspired by the principle that every human being has a fundamental nature of basic goodness, is a philosophy that influences the camp. It stems from Tibetan Buddhism, an ancient practice that spread rapidly in the 1950s after the Chinese takeover of Tibet caused the Tibetan Buddhist teachers to leave the country. Inspired by the Dalai Lama and his practices, campers of all faiths learn about its mindfulness, meditation and awareness practices and can cultivate his or her own being — without any technology present.

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Yesterday, I was lucky enough to wait on a family of nine on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Lakewood. Not only did they run my ass off (the mother said she had worked in a restaurant and “knew how it was”), her daughter made a comment I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry at.

“You know a place that’s really beautiful?” She asked. I asked where. “Seattle, Washington.”

“Oh yes, I plan on going up there next year,” I said, turning back to her after stacking their plates.

“Not to visit. To live,” she said. I looked at her quizzically. Was she really pulling the…

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“I want you to smile and be nice to us because even though we’re dirty old men, we’re still nice guys.”

The confusing request rang in my ears. What did I just hear? In front of me, sat five men with peppery gray hair, who looked at me wondering what would happen next.

“Am I not smiling?” I said, on the brink of annoyance but not one bit surprised at this comment. Of course someone had to tell me to smile.

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Clockwise from top left: Blue Pan Pizza’s Brooklyn Bridge; Enzo’s End Pizzeria’s Spinaci; Pizzeria Lui’s Lawn Boy; a seasonal pie from Brava! Pizzeria & Cafe. Photo by Aaron Colussi

Denver may not be known for America’s favorite food, but as it turns out, there are myriad excellent versions around town (we should know; we ate them all). No matter how you slice it, there’s never been a better time to be a pizza lover in Colorado.

A written collaboration with 5280 Magazine. Read the full article here.

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Filipino cuisine has been gaining traction nationally for a few years, and Denverites in the know go to Aurora’s Filipino-Thai joint ChowSun to get their fix. Housed in a nondescript strip mall, the four-year-old fast-casual eatery serves a full Thai menu, but we go for the bold, pork-centric Filipino fare, which marries Spanish and southeastern Asian influences. Our ideal meal starts with “lumpia” (crispy Filipino-style egg rolls) dipped into sweet chile sauce. Next, a savory-and-sour bowl of pork adobo or indulgent “lechon kawali” (fried cubes of juicy pork belly) served with a Filipino staple: fluffy steamed white rice. For dessert, order the halo halo sundae, a layered shaved-ice treat made with “ube” (purple yam) ice cream, sweetened condensed milk, red coconut jelly, jackfruit, and coconut slivers. 830 S. Buckley Road, Aurora, 720-410-2135

Written for 5280 Magazine‘s “Where We’re Eating in November” 

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Photo courtesy of Lori J Photography
If you haven’t been to RiNo’s Nocturne Jazz & Supper Club5280’s 2017 Top of the Town pick for Eatertainment—here’s an excellent reason for you to check it out: Champagne School. Nocturne co-owner and sommelier Scott Mattson and Breakthru Beverage sommeliers Sam Heider and Adam Vance debuted the class series in July, covering topics such as rosé and grower’s Champagne. Sadly, all of the summer classes are sold out—but there’s still time to make it to the last installment. The final(e) class, which will focus on Champagne winemaking traditions and the art of food pairings, takes place on October 29. This don’t-miss event features a four-course meal by chef Greg Weadick, ample bubbly tastings and pairings, and a set of tunes from vintage-jazz musicians Annie Booth and Matt Smiley.

Nocturne began holding cocktail classes earlier this year, but the new Champagne classes give Denverites the opportunity to dive deep into the terroir and culture of the famed French wine. As founder and co-owner Nicole Mattson says, “It’s a fun opportunity to educate the people of Denver on why it’s a lifestyle splurge.”

At a recent Champagne introduction course, I was welcomed to the chic, industrial venue with a flute of prosecco. While I was initially befuddled—why on earth would wine experts serve prosecco at a Champagne class?—the Italian sparkling wine served was a teaching moment. Prosecco’s quick process from harvest to glass can’t touch the complex flavors produced by the time-consuming methode traditionelle of true French Champagne. Soon, we were sipping samples of crisp, apple-y Nicolas Feuillatte and yeasty, effervescent Charles Heidsieck, nibbling on black lentil falafel, charred corn and smoked hominy fritters, and black cod croquettes, and jotting down tasting notes as our knowledgeable instructors shared their expertise. At the end of the class, we voted for our favorite sips; the winning bottle of bubbles from each class in the series will be featured at the October 29 dinner.

Written for 5280.com. Find the original blog post here.

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Jill’s Restaurant and Bistro Peach Melba. Photo courtesy of B Public Relations

There aren’t many things better than biting into a perfect Colorado peach. Turns out that our best chefs, brewers, and artisans agree—and they’ve been busy utilizing the famed stone fruit in a wide variety of dishes and products. Here, we’ve rounded up 10 of our favorites.

See the full listicle here. Written for 5280.com.

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Perhaps you’ve been to Balistreri Vineyards’ 17-year-old north Denver tasting room for glasses of Colorado-sourced wine or an Italian-inspired lunch. But you may not know about its outstanding seasonal wine dinners, which owner and winemaker John Balistreri launched 13 years ago.

You can experience one for yourself at the family-owned winery’s lush garden this Friday, August 4. The Showcase Wine Dinner promises six courses from chefs Ariana Pope and Chris Teigland, veterans of Blackbelly Market and Honor Society Hand-Crafted Eatery, respectively. They’ll be preparing summery dishes such as tuna carpaccio, Talbott Farm peach caprese, a play on surf and turf involving Snake River Farms wagyu beef and butter-poached lobster, and a sweet Olathe corn custard. All will be served on grandson John Domenico’s ceramic plateware, baked in a 30-foot Japanese kiln a few hundred yards away from the winery.

Of course, there will be wine, and lots of it. Balistreri plans to break out library wines as well as a never-before-released orange-style wine, which gets its color from the skins of white grapes that are left on during the fermentation process. At a recent spring barrel-tasting supper, my fiancé and I (and 108 others guests) were wowed by Balistreri’s fruit-forward 2016 Colorado Syrah, the green pepper notes of the 2016 Colorado Cabernet Franc, and the bold, oaky-vanilla flavors of the 2016 Colorado Cabernet Sauvignon. All are made with grapes sourced from Palisade vineyards and will be available in the tasting room this fall. Between the delicious food, familial hospitality, and award-winning wines, it was an experience that I look forward to repeating.

Written for 5280.com. Find the original story here.

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I love ice cream as much as the next person. But there’s a whole world of diverse frozen treats out there that I’m also fond of, from Taiwanese bao-bing (shaved snow) to Japanese kakigori (flavored shaved ice). On a recent trip to my hometown of Cebu, Philippines, I was reminded of why “halo halo” is my hands-down favorite way to beat the summer heat.

via Searching for Halo Halo – 5280

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Colorado may be landlocked, but island-inspired Adrift Tiki Bar in the Speer neighborhood manages to deliver a slice of beachside heaven. That’s especially true now that the serene enclosed patio is open for the season, with its brilliant hula dancer mural (by Denver graffiti artist Jolt), grass-hut awnings, and piping-hot lava rock fire pit. Nothing pairs better with patios than cocktails, and you’ll definitely want to soak up the warm weather with Adrift’s macadamia nut chi-chi in hand.

via Smart Sips: Adrift’s Macadamia Nut Chi-Chi – 5280

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